Moon Palace

By Paul Auster; Published In 1989
Genres: Fiction, Literature, American, Contemporary
A here exists only in relation to a there, not the other way around. There's this only because there's that; if we don't look up, we'll never know what's down. Think of it, boy. We find ourselves only by looking what we're not. You can't put your feet on the ground until you've touched the sky.

All children are love children, he said, but only the best ones are ever called that.

and now we get to the hard part. the endings, the farewells, and the famous last words. if you don't hear from me often, remember that you're in my thoughts.

As Uncle Victor had once told me long ago, a conversation is like having a catch with someone. A good partner tosses the ball directly into your glove, making it almost impossible for you to miss it; when he is on the receiving end, he catches everything sent his way, even the most errant and incompetent throws. That’s

Bit by bit, I found myself relaxing into the conversation. Kitty had a natural talent for drawing people out of themselves, and it was easy to fall in with her, to feel comfortable in her presence. As Uncle Victor had once told me long ago, a conversation is like having a catch with someone. A good partner tosses the ball directly into your glove, making it almost impossible for you to miss it; when he is on the receiving end, he catches everything sent his way, even the most errant and incompetent throws. That’s what Kitty did. She kept lobbing the ball straight into the pocket of my glove, and when I threw the ball back to her, she hauled in everything that was even remotely in her area: jumping up to spear balls that soared above her head, diving nimbly to her left or right, charging in to make tumbling, shoestring catches. More than that, her skill was such that she always made me feel that I had made those bad throws on purpose, as if my only object had been to make the game more amusing. She made me seem better than I was, and that strengthened my confidence, which in turn helped to make my throws less difficult for her to handle. In other words, I started talking to her rather than to myself, and the pleasure of it was greater than anything I had experienced in a long time.

Eighteen is a terrible age, and while I walked around with the conviction that I was somehow more grown-up than my classmates, the truth was that I had merely found a different way of being young.

Every man is the author of his own life.

For the first time in his life, he stopped worrying about results, and as a consequence the terms “success” and “failure” had suddenly lost their meaning for him. The true purpose of art was not to create beautiful objects, he discovered. It was a method of understanding, a way of penetrating the world and finding one’s place in it, and whatever aesthetic qualities an individual canvas might have were almost an incidental by-product of the effort to engage oneself in this struggle, to enter into the thick of things.

Fuck Edison and his goddamned lightbulb.

Guilt kept me going. It was impossible not to blame myself for what had happened, but even guilt was a comfort. It was a human feeling, a sign that I was still attached to the same world that other men lived in.

I became hypnotized by my own loneliness, unwilling to stop until my eyes wouldn't stay open anymore, watching the white line of the highway as though it was the last thing that connected me to the earth.

I felt the taste of mortality in my mouth, and at that moment I understood that I was not going to live forever. It takes a long time to learn that, but when you finally do, everything changes inside you, you can never be the same again. I was seventeen years old, and all of a sudden, without the slightest flicker of a doubt, I understood that my life was my own, that it belonged to me and no one else.
I’m talking about freedom, Fogg. A sense of despair that becomes so great, so crushing, so catastrophic, that you have no choice but to be liberated by it. That’s the only choice, or else you crawl into a corner and die.

If the world weren't such a beautiful place, we might all turn into cynics

I had jumped off the edge, and then, at the very last moment, something reached out and caught me in midair. That something is what I define as love. It is the one thing that can stop a man from falling, powerful enough to negate the laws of gravity.

It often happens that things are other than what they seem, and you can get yourself into trouble by jumping to conclusions.

It was all a matter of missed connections, bad timing, blundering in the dark. We were always in the right place at the wrong time, always just missing each other, always just a few inches from figuring the whole thing out. That’s what the story boils down to, I think. A series of lost chances. All the pieces were there from the beginning, but no one knew how to put them together.

I've made my nothing, and now I've got to live in it.

No one was to blame for what happened, but that does not make it any less difficult to accept. It was all a matter of missed connections, bad timing, blundering in the dark. We were always in the right place at the wrong time, the wrong place at the right time, always just missing each other, always just a few inches from figuring the whole thing out. That's what the story boils down to, I think. A series of lost chances. All the pieces were there from the beginning, but no one knew how to put them together.

... that once you throw your life to the winds, you will discover things you had never known before, things that cannot be learned under any other circumstances.

That was the trouble. The land is too big out there, and after a while it starts to swallow you up. I reached a point when I couldn't take it anymore. All that bloody silence and emptiness. You try to find your bearings in it, but it's too big, the dimensions are too monstrous, and eventually, I don't know how else to put it, eventually it just stops being there. There's no world, no land, no nothing. It comes down to that, Fogg, in the end it's all a figment. The only place you exist is in your head.

The moon people do not eat by swallowing food but by smelling it. Their money is poetry - actual poems, written out on pieces of paper whose value is determined by the worth of the poem itself.

There's progress for you. A bigger and better mousetrap every month. Pretty soon, we'll all be able to kill all the mice at the same time.

There were dozens of pictures similar to the one I had found in the Brooklyn Museum; the same forest, the same moon, the same silence. The moon was always full in these works, and it was always the same: small, perfectly round circle in the middle of the canvas, glowing with the palest white light. After I had looked at five or six of them, they gradually began to separate themselves from their surrounds, and I was no long able to see them as moons. They became holes in the canvas, apertures of whiteness looking out onto another work. Blakelock’s eye, perhaps. A blank circle suspended in space, gazing down at things that were no longer there.

The room was a machine that measured my condition: how much of me remained, how much of me was no longer there. I was both perpetrator and witness, both actor and audience in a theater of one. I could follow the progress of my own dismemberment. Piece by piece, I could watch myself dissapear.

The whole scene had an imaginary quality to it. I knew that it was real, but at the same time it was better than reality, more nearly a projection of what I wanted from reality than anything I had experienced before.

…those were the subjects that Barber dealt with as a historian, and no matter how scrupulous and profession he was in treating them, there was always a personal motive behind his work, a secret conviction that he was somehow digging into the mysteries of his own life.

Todo lo inanimado se desintegraba, todo lo viviente moría. Cada vez que pensaba en esto notaba latidos en la cabeza al imaginar los furiosos y acelrados movimientos de las moléculas, las incesantes explosiones de la materia, el hirviente caos oculto bajo la superficie de todas las cosas.

We find ourselves only by looking to what we’re not.

Yo había saltado desde el borde del acantilado y justo cuando estaba a punto de dar contra el fondo, ocurrió un hecho extraordinario: me enteré que había gente que me quería. Que le quieran a uno de ese modo lo cambia todo. No disminuye el terror de la caída, pero te da una nueva perspectiva de lo que significa ese terror. Yo había saltado desde el borde y entonces, en el último instante, algo me cogió en el aire. Ese algo es lo que defino como amor. Es la única cosa que puede detener la vida de un hombre, la única cosa lo bastante poderosa como para invalidar las leyes de la gravedad

You’re a dreamer, boy,” he said. “Your mind is on the moon, and from the looks of things, it’s never
going to be anywhere else. You have no ambitions, you don’t give a damn about money, and you’re
too much of a philosopher to have any feeling for art. What am I going to do with you? You need
someone to look after you, to make sure you have food in your belly and a bit of cash in your pocket.
Once I’m gone, you’ll be right back where you started.